Beginning the Gluten-Free Lifestyle

My sister recently approached me, asking how to go about adopting a gluten-free diet. Although she was never diagnosed, autoimmune disorders and digestive problems – likely stemming from a gluten sensitivity—run rampant in my family. Of course, I’m the only person who has managed to live entirely gluten-free. I guess it goes without saying, stubbornness also runs in my family. I digress.

As I’ve been living gluten-free for about six years now, I often find myself engaged in conversations with others curious about the gluten-free diet, especially those with persistent stomach aches and discomfort. Before anything else, I strongly urge anyone with problems to see a real doctor to rule out anything serious. But for those interested in saving some time and money (both of which doctors can tend to waste), I like to offer a quick guide and some helpful tips if considering a gluten-free diet.

First, there’s the basic rule: read the labels and eliminate anything made of wheat or white flour. Next, consume only foods found on the parameter of the grocery store, i.e. fruit, vegetables, unseasoned meats, nuts and dairy. Finally, try to avoid eating out at restaurants for the first week or two. For many, these rules sound easy enough. However, when seriously maintaining a gluten-free diet, there’s a lot more to know and understand.

Google Everything

In this day and age, using Google to find out information is pretty much commonplace, but it is important for living gluten-free. And when looking for answers to specific questions, a simple Google search isn’t always enough. I often consult at least 10 different Google results before making a decision because the gluten-free online knowledgebase is still growing and developing.

Be Prepared

So much of socialising can often center on food. If eating gluten-free, attending a dinner party or eating out at a restaurant can cause anxiety or leave you hungry. Bring your dish or talk to the party host before if attending a party where food will be served. Look up restaurant menus or call ahead to know of gluten-free options before dining out.

Talk to Your Server

Just because the restaurant offers gluten-free entrees or even boasts of a gluten-free menu, doesn’t always ensure a wholly gluten-free eating experience. When eating out, politely chat up your server and explain your sensitivity to gluten. You certainly don’t need to get into the gory details, but make sure your server understands that you cannot have anything made with wheat or flour. Casually alerting your server of a gluten intolerance will hopefully inspire personal attention to your meal and ensuring a safe outing.

Get a Gluten-Free Mentor

When I first started eating gluten-free, I stayed lost. However, I was lucky to have a friend who had been living gluten-free for nearly ten years, and she kindly offered to serve as my gluten-free coach. Whenever I was unsure of an ingredient or what to eat at a restaurant, I would text my friend, and she would just reply with a ‘yay’ or ‘nay.’ (Mind you, this was before Internet phones.) Regardless, this simple exercise helped me learn and build a wealth of knowledge to better arm me for living gluten-free.

Embarking on the gluten-free lifestyle isn’t just about changing what you eat, but it also requires you to change how you eat. Avoiding bread and cookies is one part of a very complicated equation.

Gluten-Free Diet: What is it?

A gluten-free diet is unlike a fad diet as it serves the purpose of treating celiac disease. It is recommended for gluten-intolerant people that have special dietary and nutrient requirements. Despite it being the only solution to sufferers of celiac disorder, a doctor should always be consulted for proper advice on how to go about the diet.

Gluten is a protein found in rye, wheat and barley. It gives products processed from these raw materials its elasticity thereby allowing the dough to rise and maintain its shape. The final product derives from gluten its chewy texture. While it is found to exist in cereals and bread, grains such as wild rice, amaranth, quinoa, teff, oats, soybeans and sunflower seeds do not have it.

Gluten is not necessarily only found in wheat-based products. It’s also a stabilising agent or thickener for ice creams and ketchup. Other products that contain gluten are medicines and vitamins. It is used in cosmetics products such as lipstick, lip balms, and lip glosses.

There are people who adverse reactions to gluten. This sensitivity to gluten is due to an immune reaction that obstructs its digestion. This condition is known as Celiac Disease, and it affects about 1 in 133 people.

Gluten intolerance is a genetic disorder, and symptoms include diarrhoea, weight loss, and gastrointestinal implications. Celiacs suffer intestinal damage specifically in the villi, the small protrusions that line the small intestine that is responsible for the absorption of nutrients. With the villi in excellent condition, nutrition is not absorbed into the body. The most efficient resolution to this problem is a gluten-free diet.

A gluten-free diet is a life-long commitment to a diet the leaves out foods containing gluten. Additionally, it is the only diet that is medically accepted and prescribed for the treatment of celiac disease. It is also suggested for patients with dermatitis herpetiformis and wheat allergy. Wheat, rye, barley, triticale, durum, Graham, Kamut, semolina, spelt, and malt products are explicitly not allowed to be used. However, specific grains and flours that are allowed to be eaten are rice, corn, soy, beans, sorghum, quinoa, millet, arrowroot, amaranth, flax, and nut flours.

Uncontaminated oats may be consumed only in moderation. This translates to up to half a cup of dry oats each day. Gluten-free oats may be used, if available. Certain alcoholic drinks such as wines, hard liquor and distilled beverages are gluten-free; however, malt vinegar, lagers, and beers that are not distilled are made from gluten-containing grains. Thus, they should be avoided. Fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products are allowed to be consumed.

Cross-contamination of products is an issue for some. Contamination occurs when gluten-free foods come into contact with foods containing even a small amount of gluten. This can be avoided by preparing gluten-free foods separately from gluten-containing ones. In addition, utensils such as knives, flour sifters, chopping boards and mixing bowls should be washed thoroughly before using them to prepare gluten-free food. Dips and oils used that come into contact with gluten-containing foods should be replaced as well.

Marinated Raw Salmon

I would like to keep my cooking blog very easy to follow and extremely straightforward and clutter-free. One of its goals is to present ideas for those who work full-time and have little time or inspiration to come up with new creative ideas every time. More importantly, this blog is for the exchange of recipes, which is why I am also inviting contributors, who are interested in sharing their recipes but are not necessarily interested in creating and maintaining a blog of their own.

This blog is constant work in progress and will keep changing. Enjoy looking through the recipes and feel free to modify them when cooking as you like, comments and contribution are of course much appreciated. This dish is light and flavorful, a variation of another recipe that I have been working on for a while, but requires a lot less time and work. Can be served on its own or on the top of a salad.

Ingredients

300 gr salmon fillets

juice of 1 orange

juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsps Himalayan salt or another salt of your choice

2 tsp stevia powder, or sugar (brown sugar works best)

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Get Ready to Drool

Cut the salmon into two thin slices and then in bite-size 3-4 pieces, put in a bowl. In another bowl mix all of the ingredients together. Pour over the salmon and mix well with a spoon, pushing the salmon down to be covered with the marinade. Cover the dish with aluminium foil and put in the fridge for 24 hours. When ready, take the salmon pieces out of the marinade and serve with fresh chopped greens of your choice.

My Special Fruity Cabbage Salad

Whenever we ate Fruity Cabbage Salad when I was a kid, I knew we’d have pancakes after. So I inhaled the salad just so I could start on my pancakes. However, today I had some freshly made beef broth in my fridge and figured I’d have to make some salad with that. The only other things we had in the fridge that -in my opinion- could make an interesting salad were celeriac and carrot. Lately I’ve been getting tired of carrots, so celeriac salad it was.

Then came a discussion between my boyfriend and me: me: ‘I can’t make fruit  salad because all the recipes call for bacon, and we don’t have any.’ bf: ‘Not all the recipes call for bacon, the only recipes you have a look at call for bacon.’ (he knows me and my fondness for bacon all too well) So I saw it as a challenge. I was going to make celeriac salad, that didn’t require bacon.

We both loved the end result! So here it is.

It’s cabbage time! I got a request from one of my followers to create a recipe with red cabbage, so I did. I was glad she asked me because I, too, had been wondering what to make next with this vegetable. I ended up making 2 different meals with just 1 head of cabbage, I love that! And I even have lots of leftovers to enjoy later on. This salad really gives you a spring-feeling because of the fruitiness, and it looks cheerful too! You could serve it with any protein of your choice; chicken, steak, fish, eggs. Whatever you like most, or whatever happens to be in your fridge.

Enjoy!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 People

Ingredients:

  • Salad
  • Red Cabbage – 1/2 head, grated
  • Carrot – 1 large (approx. 300g), grated
  • Apple – 1, diced
  • Parsley – 1/3 cup, chopped
  • Dressing
  • Coconut Cream – 1/2 cup
  • Orange – 1, peeled, seeds removed
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – 1 tbsp
  • Ginger Powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Pepper – to taste

Instructions:

Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Add all ingredients for the dressing to a bowl and puree with a hand blender until smooth. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix to combine.

Serve, and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup

Over the past week or so I have had a cough that just won’t seem to go away, so I decided to try making some chicken noodle soup to cure me. It worked! It wasn’t just any old chicken noodle soup but a gluten free recipe that I came up with. Not a big fan of flour and if you’re sick that’s probably the last think you want to eat. The great thing about this style of soup is that it’s ready in about an hour and it’s really simple. The noodles are easy to make and taste great.

Most of the ingridents you probably already have at home, if not there easy to find. First, you start my slicing up a carrot or two and a celery. I use 1 onion and a tablespoon of butter, you can also use shallot if you have one. Put the olive oil in it and ad some salt and pepper. If you like garlic, like I do then add as much as you want. Usually I use several cloves. If you’re not feeling well garlic can be one of the best things for you. You can also add more butter if you’re not feeling well because eating more butter makes me feel happy, I don’t know about you. While the veggies are getting ready chop up the chicken and begin seasoning it. I go for bite sized pieces and throw in a little parsley and cilantro as well. For the past you want to get the gluten free pasta. If you want to make this from scratch it’s pretty tough. I’ve attempted it several times like my grandmother used to make it but I just can’t seem to get it down. Plus I don’t have a good enough past maker. The pasta I like the best is the Yucca pasta which is made from… Yucca. If you don’t want to get gluten free then get whatever pasta you want. I must warn you though that you will feel AMAZING after eating the Yucca pasta!
SERVES 4-6

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled off subsequently slit
1 shallot or 1/2 little onion, chopped
For reheating, 64 ounces chicken broth
8 ounces gluten free spaghetti, broken into pieces (or some short cut pasta)
Directions

Warm butter and oil in a big pot over moderate heat. Add carrots, celery, and shallot and then season with pepper and salt, then saute for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic then saute for 1 minute more. Add chicken broth then bring to a boiling point. Season chicken with pepper and salt then add to boiling chicken broth as well as pasta. Turn heat down to medium then simmer, until pasta is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Flavor then serve and subsequently adjust salt and pepper if needed.